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Interview

Kataklysm Guitarist Jean-François Dagenais Talks New Album "Heaven's Venom"

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Canadian death metal maestros Kataklysm took a brief break from their northern hyperblast sound to dip into Roman themes with the Ex Deo project. While Ex Deo continues, the members returned to Kataklysm to release the latest album "Heaven's Venom."

Guitarist Jean-François Dagenais took some time out during the band's recent North American tour dates to discuss the new album, stating "I think it’s a really aggressive album with a lot of emotions put out on the table because we’ve gone through a lot in the last few years. It’s one of my personal favorites. As soon as we finished at the studio I still played it and enjoyed it. Usually when we’re done with an album I’ve heard it too much, but this one I still enjoy months later." Jean-François also explained what Kataklysm and Ex Deo will be up to in the future.

xFiruath: You guys are currently on the road, where are you stopped at now?

Jean-François: Yeah we are, we’re in Houston, Texas.

xFiruath: You guys played Ozzfest not too long ago, how was that?

Jean-François: That was great. One thing that surprised me about Ozzfest was that no matter what time we played in the day, it was packed with people. The crowd was really into the music. Katakalysm goes on there and plays for people who have been listening to Drowning Pool and Black Label and Motley Crue and it was pretty nice to see them like us. I think we made a lot of new fans.

xFiruath: You’ve just released the new album “Heaven’s Venom.” What will we hear on this album that’s different from any other Kataklysm disc?

Jean-François: I think with this one we went a little more intricate on the song writing and arrangements. Right now we’re playing these songs live and they’re much harder to play live than other stuff, which is kind of refreshing. I think it’s a really aggressive album with a lot of emotions put out on the table because we’ve gone through a lot in the last few years. It’s one of my personal favorites. As soon as we finished at the studio I still played it and enjoyed it. Usually when we’re done with an album I’ve heard it too much, but this one I still enjoy months later.

xFiruath: Tell me about the recording sessions.

Jean-François: That was throughout winter and spring. It took about a month to record and about another week to mix with Tue Madsen.

xFiruath: What are the lyrics dealing with on “Heaven’s Venom?”

Jean-François: Pretty much it’s about finding your inner demons and standing up for what your beliefs are. We wanted to show that a lot. The intro to the album means a lot to us, it fits perfectly with the whole concept.

xFiruath: Did you guys recruit any guest musicians this time around?

Jean-François: No, for this one we wanted to but we were in the studio and we felt this album was more personal to us. Maybe on the next album we’ll have someone.

xFiruath: The members of Kataklsym were all involved with the debut Ex Deo album and the Ex Deo tour, and then you shifted gears to do a new Katakalysm album. How was it going between those two different styles?

Jean-François: When we started touring with Ex Deo it was kind of weird because we were jumping from one band to the other. The moods are so much different, but now I think it’s much easier to jump ship from one to the other because we know what to focus on with Ex Deo and Kataklysm. Its two different beasts, and we know what we want to achieve and what our goals are with each band. Right now we’re doing Kataklysm and afterward we’ll jump over again back to Exo Deo. We’ll have to go into Roman mode again. I’m actually excited about writing new songs for Ex Deo.

xFiruath: I’m glad you brought that up, because I really enjoyed “Romulus” and I hope we get lots more Ex Deo in the future.

Jean-François: We didn’t know for sure because for us it was really Maurizio’s project, so we did it out of passion for music and to do something different. When we saw the reaction to it and the amount of albums sold, the label certainly wanted us to record a second one. We thought about it and thought “Why not?” It works good, and we actually have a lot to say and more ideas to explore and we want to start working on another one.

xFiruath: You guys actually still have some more Ex Deo tour dates coming up before the end of the year, don’t you?

Jean-François: Yes, we’re going to support Nile in November.

xFiruath: Back on to “Heaven’s Venom,” who did the cover artwork for the album?

Jean-François: I think his name was Josh, he’s from Massachusetts and he was a friend of ours and he wanted to do some artwork for us and he came up with this design and it fit pretty well. We actually wanted an old school artwork for the new album, but more like a painting kind of design, and that’s what we were aiming for.

xFiruath: You guys did a video for “Push the Venom.” Where did you film that at?

Jean-François: We did a tour with Ex Deo last summer in Europe supporting Behemoth. The tour was ending in Serbia so that’s where we shot it and it was with the same guys that did the Ex Deo videos. It was perfect timing because we were there and they wanted to do it, so we went with them again and that was a great experience. We always get a good product with those guys. We were happy with the final results.

xFiruath: What albums have you been listening to?

Jean-François: Lately I’m trying to finish the new Iron Maiden album, I just got it this week. So far I don’t like it as much as the previous couple ones. That’s pretty much what I’ve been listening to the past week. I listen to a lot of classic metal, and I’m not too much into the newer extreme metal scene. For me it’s a little overly technical for my tastes and I’m having a hard time getting into it. Some bands are very awesome but I’m more an old school guy when it comes to music.

xFiruath: Any parting words about the album?

Jean-François: I want to say thank you to everyone who is buying it. The sales are doing amazing and we charted in three countries in Europe. It looks like it’s doing well here in America, so thank you to everyone who buys it. All our fans and supporters have been with us throughout the years and it’s nice to see we still have a strong following out there and people show up every night to the shows and it’s amazing.

xFiruath's avatar

Ty Arthur is a freelance writer who writes for both entertainment and technical instruction sites. An avid fan of many different forms of metal, he has been involved in reviewing music for several years and is currently a contributing editor for Metalunderground.com

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